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Is Tretinoin banned in Europe?

If you're interested in anti-aging products, skin lightening, or have acne woes it's very likely that you have heard of Tretinoin. This ingredient can be found in popular skincare items like Retin-A, and is very effective...but why has Europe supposedly banned its use? Europe is always a forerunner in both the beauty and health-food industry because they commonly back their claims by scientific evidence and generally err on the side of caution.

tretinoin use for anti-aging

SO WHAT IS IT?

Tretinoin is synthetic Vitamin A. It works by increasing skin cell turnover, rapidly. If you have used it before you'll recall that your skin peels revealing brand new, soft skin with a peachy glow. Tretinoin is available in some European countries by prescription only, it is closely monitored because of its side effects which range from drastic skin peeling to altering the skins function. Let's take a closer look at a few of these side effects:

Drastic peeling makes the skin more susceptible to UV damage therefore making it more prone to skin cancer [1].

Damaging the skins natural barrier function can have serious consequences because the natural barrier serves as protection from toxins, allergens and harmful bacteria [2].

When considering its toxicity, European scientists weighed the risks of birth defects and have stated that while topical Tretinoin is less likely to cause birth defects because the amount of medication absorbed through the skin is minimal, scientific evidence regarding a related drug called isotretinoin (taken orally) displays a risk of face, heart, and brain defects in developing fetuses (feti) [3].

SO WHAT ARE OTHER OPTIONS?

I'll be the first to tell you that there will not be other ingredients that work as quickly, or as effectively as Tretinoin, but there are some healthy options that work similarly without the side effects:

Rose Hips have naturally occurring Vitamin A which helps to regenerate skin by helping the skin rid itself of dead skin cells. Jojoba, and Green Tea have a similar effect. (see our Renewing Face Oil and Hemp + Green Tea Cleanser)

Light Exfoliation with a product that isn't harsh like our Coconut Super Fruit Facial Polish removes dead skin cells revealing "fresh" skin that glows!

As always, personal education is key! I attached some citations if you'd like to weigh the pros and cons of topical Tretinoin personally.


[1] Mukherjee S, Date A, Patravale V, Korting HC, Roeder A, Weindl G. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(4):327-48. doi: 10.2147/ciia.2006.1.4.327. PMID: 18046911; PMCID: PMC2699641.

[2] Kanwar AJ. Skin barrier function. Indian J Med Res. 2018 Jan;147(1):117–8. doi: 10.4103/0971-5916.232013. PMCID: PMC5967208.

[3] Mother To Baby | Fact Sheets [Internet]. Brentwood (TN): Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS); 1994-. Topical Tretinoin. 2022 Oct. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK582989/

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